Kass: Pope Francis should heed warning of his predecessor

Is it our ravenous consumerism? Our hunger requiring shiny new objects and ever-stronger sensations?

"Benedict spoke of the dictatorship of relativism, the idea that there is no absolute truth, that truth is whatever you think truth should be," said Dreher. "This is the acid burning through the spiritual life of the West."

What bothers him most is his fear that the young have drifted away.

"Social science tells us that among young people, there are many who have no church or faith at all. They don't feel the need for God anymore. We've become so rich, so craving of sensation, that we think we don't need God, or that the god we think we need looks a lot like ourselves.

"This is the great competitor for the Roman Catholic Church and all Christian churches now: consumerism and narcissism and the almighty self."

But can Pope Francis hold against such forces?

"The church is countercultural now. It has to be," Dreher said.

He recalled the words of Flannery O'Connor, the great Catholic writer: "You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you."

Now, Dreher said, "I hope this pope pushes back hard against the age."

And so do many of us.


Twitter @John_Kass